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ful when combined with the lonelines and distance of the scene “ placed far amid the melancholy main " in which we become dwellers. We have grown so familiar with the solitude, that the print of man's foot seen in the sand seems to appal us as an awful thing !—The Family Instructor of this author, in which he inculcates weightily his own notions of puritanical demeanour and parental authority, is very curious. It is a strange mixture of narrative and dialogue, fanaticism and nature; but all done with such earnestness, that the sense of its reality never quits us. Nothing, however, can be more harsh and unpleasing than the impression which it leaves. It does injustice both to religion and the world. It represents the innocent pleasures of the latter as deadly sins, and the former as most gloomy, austere, and exclusive. One lady resolves on poisoning her husband, and another determines to go to the play, and the author treats both offences with a severity nearly equal !
Far different from this ascetic novel is that best of religious romances, the Fool of Quality. The piety there is at once most deep and most benign. There is much, indeed of eloquent mysticism, but all evidently most heartfelt and sincere. The yearnings of the soul after universal good and intimate communion with the divine nature were never more nobly shown. The author is most prodigal of his intellectual wealth—“ his bounty is as boundless as the sea, his love as deep." He gives to his chief characters riches endless as the spiritual stores of his own heart. It is, indeed, only the last which gives value to the first in his writings. It is easy to endow men with millions on paper, and to make them willing to scatter them among the wretched; but it is the corresponding bounty and exuberance of the author's soul, which here makes the money sterling, and the charity divine. The hero of this romance always appears to our imagination like a radiant vision encircled with celestial glories. The stories introduced in it are delightful exceptions to the usual rule by which such incidental tales are properly regarded as impertinent intrusions. That of David Doubtful is of the most romantic interest, and at the same time steeped in feeling the most profound. But that of Clement and his wife is perhaps the finest. The scene in which they are discovered, having placidly lain down to die of hunger together, in gentle
submission to Heaven, depicts a quiescence the most sublime, yet the most affecting. Nothing can be more delightful than the sweetening ingredients in their cup of sorrow. The heroic act of the lady to free herself from her ravisher's grasp, her trial and her triumphant acquittal, have a grandeur above that of tragedy. The genial spirit of the author's faith leads him to exult especially in the repentance of the wicked. No human writer seems ever to have hailed the contrite with so cordial a welcome. His scenes appear overspread with a rich atmosphere of tenderness, which softens and consecrates all things.
We would not pass over, without a tribute of gratitude, Mrs. Radcliffe's wild and wondrous tales. When we read them, the world seems shut out, and we breathe only in an enchanted region, where lovers' lutes tremble over placid waters, mouldering castles rise conscious of deeds of blood, and the sad voices of the past echo through deep vaults and lonely galleries. There is always majesty in her terrors. She produces more effect by whispers and slender hints than ever was attained by the most vivid display of horrors. Her conclusions are tame and impotent almost without example. But while her spells actually operate, her power is truly magical. Who can ever forget the scene in the Romance of the Forest, where the marquis, who has long sought to make the heroine the victim of licentious love, after working on her protector, over whom he has a mysterious influence, to steal at night into her chamber, and when his trembling listener expects only a requisition for delivering her into his hands replies to the question of “then—to night, my Lord !" " Adelaide dies"-or the allusions to the dark veil in the Mysteries of Udolpho—or the stupendous scenes in Spalatro's cottage? Of all romance writers Mrs. Radcliffe is the most romantic.
The present age has produced a singular number of authors of delightful prose fiction, on whom we intend to give a series of criticisms. We shall begin with MACKENZIE, whom we shall endeavour to compare with Sterne, and for this reason we have passed over the works of the latter in our present cursory view of the novelists of other days.
[New Monthly Magazine.]
ALTHOUGH our veneration for Mackenzie has induced us to commence this series of articles with an attempt to express our sense of his genius, we scarcely know how to criticize its exquisite creations. The feelings which they have awakened within us are too old and too sacred almost for expression. We scarcely dare to scrutinize with a critic's ear, the blending notes of that sad and soft music of humanity which they breathe. We feel as if there were a kind of privacy in our sympathies with them—as though they were a part of ourselves, which strangers knew not—and as if in publicly expressing them, we were violating the sanctities of our own souls. We must recollect, however, that our readers know them as well as we do, and then to dwell with them tenderly on their merits, will seem like discoursing of the long cherished memories of friends we had in common, and of sorrows participated in childhood.
The purely sentimental style in which the tales of Mackenzie are written, though deeply felt by the people, has seldom met with due appreciation from the critics. It has its own genuine and peculiar beauties, which we love the more the longer we feel them. Its consecrations are altogether drawn from the soul. The gentle tinges which it casts on human life are shed not from the imagination or the fancy, but from the affections. It represents, indeed, humanity as more tender, its sorrows as more gentle, its joys as more abundant than they appear to common observers. But this is not effected by those influences of the imagination which consecrate whatever they touch, which detect the secret analogies of beauty, and bring kindred graces from all parts of nature to heighten the images which they reveal. It affects us rather by casting off from the soul, those impurities and littlenesses which it contracts in the world, than by foreign aids. It appeals to those simple emotions which are not the high prerogatives of genius, but which are common to all who are “made of one blood,” and partake in one primal sympathy. The holiest feelings, after all, are those which would be the most common if gross selfishness and low ambition froze not “the genial current of the soul.” The meanest and most ungifted have their gentle remembrances of early days. Love has tinged the life of the artizan and the cottager with something of the romantic. The course of none has been along so beaten a road that they remember not fondly some resting places in their journeys; some turns of their path in which lovely prospects broke in upon them; some soft plats of green refreshing to their weary feet. Confiding love, generous friendship, disinterested humanity, require no recondite learning, no high imagination, to enable an honest heart to appreciate and feel them. Too often, indeed, are the simplicities of nature, and the native tendernesses of the soul nipped and chilled by those anxieties which lie on them “ like an untimely frost." “ The world is too much with us.” We become lawyers, politicians, merchants, and forget that we are men, and sink in our transitory vocations, that character which is to last for ever. A tale of sentiment-such as those of that honoured veteran whose works we would now particularly remember-awakens all these pulses of sympathy with our kind, of whose beatings we had become almost unconscious. It does honour to humanity by stripping off its artificial disguises. Its magic is not like that by which Arabian enchanters raised up glittering spires, domes, and palaces by a few cabalistic words; but resembles their power to disclose veins of precious ore where all seemed sterile and blasted. It gently puts aside the brambles which overcast the stream of life, and lays it open to the reflexions of those delicate clouds which lie above it in the heavens. It shows to us the soft undercourses of feeling, which neither time nor circumstances can wholly stop; and the depth of affection in the soul, which nothing but sentiment itself can fathom. It disposes us to pensive thought-expands the sympathies and makes all the half-forgotten delights of youth “come back upon our hearts again,” to soften and to cheer us.
Too often has the sentiment of which we have spoken been confounded with sickly affectations in a common censure. But no things can be more opposite than the paradoxes of the inferior order of German sentimentalists and the works of a writer like Mackenzie. Real sentiment is the truest, the most genuine, and the most lasting thing on earth. It is more ancient as well as more certain in its operations, than the reasoning faculties. We know and feel before we think; we perceive before we compare; we enjoy before we believe. As the evidence of sense is stronger than that of testimony, so the light of our inward eye more truly shows to us the secrets of the heart than the most elaborate process of reason. Riches, honours, power, are transitory—the things which appear, pass away—the shadows of life alone are stable and unchanging. Of the recollections of infancy nothing can deprive us. Love endures, even if its object perishes, and nurtures the soul of the mourner. Sentiment has a kind of divine alchymy, rendering grief itself the source of tenderest thoughts, and far-reaching desires, which the sufferer cherishes as sacred treasures. The sorrows over which it sheds its influence are “ill barter'd for the garishness of joy;" for they win us softly from life, and fit us to die smiling. It endures, not only while fortune changes, but while opinions vary, which the young enthusiast fondly hoped would never forsake him. It remains when the unsubstantial pageants of goodliest hope vanish. It binds the veteran to the child by ties which no fluctuations even of belief can alter. serves the only identity, save that of consciousness, which man with certainty retains-connecting our past with our present, being by delicate ties so subtle, that they vibrate to every breeze of feeling; yet so strong that the tempests of life have not power to break them. It assures us that what we have been we shall be, and that our human hearts shall vibrate with their first sympathies, while the species shall endure.
We think that, on the whole, Mackenzie is the first master of this delicious style. Sterne, doubtless, has deeper touches of humanity in some of his works. But there is no sustained feeling-no continuity of emotion—no extended range of